Bring Up the Bodies

Henry VIII. No matter your opinion of the man, no one can deny that he and his court are immensely fascinating and dramatic. If only there were reality TV in the 1500s–could you imagine the Real Housewives of The Tower? THAT would be worth watching. (Hey spoofers…someone please do this. Please!)

I fell in love with Henry’s court when I first watched The Tudors on Netflix several years ago, and while there were several dramatic liberties taken, it let me down a rabbit hole of information hoarding. I started reading everything I could get my hands on about the period.

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Somewhere in there, Hilary Mantel published Wolf Hall, her first book from the perspective of the formidable Thomas Cromwell. I was completely enthralled. Cromwell is like all of the Lannister’s in one brain. Jaime’s weary eye, Tywin’s crazy intelligence, Cersei’s power hungry ambition, and Tyron’s book sharpened wit. Not to mention Littlefinger and Varys’ connections and abilities to find out really just about anything about anybody.

In Wolf Hall, you see Anne Boleyn’s utter domination over Henry and his court…and Katherine’s subsequent demise. And now in Bring on the Bodies, Hilary Mantel’s second Thomas Cromwell book, you get the same sneaky ambition as we watch Anne Boleyn’s scheming come to a bitter end.

Mantel’s second book is just as well written as the first. Cromwell has always been an intriguing character to me. Not quite villainous, but definitely Slytherin in nature. He is out for his own skin, furthering his own cause, even using his son to do so. He is normally a background character in every other rendition of this court’s history, but Mantel brings him to life. I love the stream of consciousness narration that she gives him–not quite third person, but it’s all in his head, talking to himself.

If you like Game of Thrones, you will like this book. As I’ve mentioned, I draw a lot of parallells in the court and Cromwell to Martin’s characters (although I have read that he wrote it about the War of the Roses, which was before this period). Also, if you like Philippa Gregory, then you probably already know this storyline, as told by the women. You’ll really like this book, if you’re interested in a different perspective. Just be sure to read Wolf Hall first. There are some nicknames in Bring on the Bodies that will make more sense if you do.

I really hope Mantel continues this series! I look forward to reading them!

 

Fulfills PopSugar #46:  A book written by an author with your same initials

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Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey

The show Downton Abbey has always intrigued me. I’ve caught a few episodes of the first season, but at that point it wasn’t on Netflix, so I couldn’t watch the whole thing in order. Now that everyone is watching it, I’m dying to watch the whole thing, because I know I’ll be instantly hooked. Which is why I have stayed farrrrrrr away from my Netflix account. Because when I’m watching Netflix shows…I do not read.

However, when I was at Barnes and Noble this weekend, killing time, there as a 3 for 2 sale, and this bio of Lady Almina caught my eye, claiming to be the inspiration for the show. I needed a third book to complete my stack, so why not?

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This book was not as drama-filled as I had hoped, but it was fairly interesting. It was mostly about WWI, and the morphing of Highclere Castle into a war hospital. It is very detailed and covers a lot of time in a little less than 300 pages. The author is Lady Fiona Carnarvon, who married the current Earl of Carnarvon. She actually lives at Highclere Castle currently.

If you like British history as I do, you will find this interesting. It’s not an exciting read, but a fascinating one. This is not a time period I have read about previously, so I am glad I picked it up.